Manchego cheese is cheese made in Spain from the milk of Manchego sheep. This is an aged cheese that can have all kinds of different flavor profiles depending on how long it has been aged. It could be sweet and fruity, slightly grassy, or have a rich and intense flavor.
Featuring a thick rind, Manchego cheese is a firm, buttery cheese that offers a nutty and delicious flavor and is a popular option for cheese and cracker spreads. This is a specialty cheese, so you may need to find a Manchego cheese substitute if you can’t get your hands on it.
1. Monterey Jack Cheese
Monterey Jack cheese is a popular American cheese that is firm and very versatile as it is delicious on its own but can also be cooked with various other ingredients. It is made from pasteurized cow’s milk and has a subtle buttery flavor and a rich creaminess.
Monterey Jack cheese is a popular Manchego cheese substitute as both kinds of cheese have a similar texture. Though Monterey Jack cheese won’t be as flavorful, it can still take the place of Manchego cheese on your cheese platter. It is milder and is a better option for those unfamiliar with more complex cheeses.
Mozzarella cheese is an Italian cheese that is very pale and is made from buffalo milk. This type of cheese is very flavorful and has a distinct creaminess and a noticeable tang. This full flavor profile is the result of the animal’s diet, making it either more floral, grassy, or mild.
Mozzarella cheese can work as a great substitute for Manchego cheese if you want something equally delicious and unique. Though Mozzarella is commonly used in foods like pizza, salads, and pasta, it can also be served with other cheeses or crackers. It won’t taste exactly like Manchego cheese, but it can act as a good replacement.
3. Pecorino Romano
Pecorino Romano is a hard cheese made from sheep’s milk in Rome. Protected under the PDO by the European Union Law, this Italian cheese has a rich history. It is very salty, subtly sweet, and crumbly with a noticeable tanginess. This cheese is most commonly used for pizzas, meatballs, stews, or for crumbling over pasta.
When using Pecorino Romano as a Manchego cheese substitute, note that it will have a distinct flavor. This cheese is a show stopper and makes a delicious addition to cheese platters or many Italian dishes. Although, you will want to balance out its saltiness with fresh ingredients or sweet foods.
4. Asiago Cheese
Asiago cheese is a cheese made from cow’s milk that was originally created in Italy. This aged cheese can come in different textures depending on its aging period. It generally has a smooth consistency and becomes crumbly as it ages.
As Asiago has a sharp, tangy, smoky, and pungent flavor, it can work as a great substitution for Manchego cheese. It can also replace Manchego if you want to serve up a hard cheese with some bread, crackers, or fruit. It is best to get a firm Asiago cheese that isn’t too crumbly to imitate Manchego cheese.
5. Parmesan Cheese
Parmesan cheese, also known as Parmigiano-Reggiano, is a hard cheese that is sold in a granular form. It is an Italian cheese made from cow’s milk that has been aged for at least a year. Most Parmesan cheeses have a fruity and nutty flavor and are used as a garnish for soup, risotto, pasta, and salad.
Given its dense and granular form, Parmesan cheese is a good substitute for dishes like salads, soups, bread, pasta, and meatballs. While its flavor is comparable to Manchego, Parmesan’s texture is very different and cannot be used as it is. You will also want to stay away from poor Parmesan cheeses as they can taste bitter and very salty.
Comte is a French cheese that is incredibly popular and is made from unpasteurized cow’s milk. This aged cheese will taste very different throughout the stages of aging. A young Comte will be buttery with notes of caramel and apricots while an older Comte is fruity and nutty with a slight hint of spiciness.
Comte is often used as a Manchego cheese substitute as it has similar fruity and sweet flavors. Both are harder cheeses that can easily be added to cooked foods or sliced and served with other finger foods. Comte is a bit richer and has a wider range of flavors depending on the age of the Comte that you buy.
7. English Cheddar Cheese
English Cheddar is a rich cheese that is made from pasteurized cow’s milk and has a golden hue. It is neither soft nor hard but somewhere in the middle, making it perfectly sliceable. A good quality English Cheddar cheese has a sharp and pungent flavor that is often a bit earthy.
In terms of flavor, English cheddar is a realistic substitute for Manchego cheese and they melt in the same way. English Cheddar can be sliced and served as it is or melted into cooked dishes to perfectly imitate Manchego cheese. Make sure to buy a good-quality English Cheddar that is firm and golden.
Zamorano is a Spanish cheese made from the milk of Churra sheep breeds in Castile-León’s Zamora province. It is typically aged for 6 months to create a hard cheese. It is light in color with a dark rind and has a smooth texture that isn’t very crumbly or gritty. It tastes strongly of sheep’s milk with notes of butter and caramel.
Though Zamorano is not a very common cheese, it is another good substitute option for Manchego cheese as they have similar flavor profiles. However, Zamorano is best used in cooked dishes as their raw textures are quite different from Manchego.